[IMRA: The Google is painfully stilted - but one gets the general idea - the
most important point - despite all the talking heads in Israel, Germany
agrees to disagree on the "settlement construction".]
Transcript of Press Conference Press conference by German Chancellor Angela
Merkel and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu 06/12/2012 (The remarks were
made on the basis of the foreign language part of the simultaneous
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: Ladies and gentlemen, I would like to welcome you to
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government wide team with
us. We talked last night and today held bilateral government consultations.
Previously have Benjamin Netanyahu and I met up with some scientists have
reported examples of German-Israeli cooperation on their projects.
The theme of this year's government consultations that take place very
regularly indeed, is "innovation, education and sustainability." So here we
have discussed the projects in the various fields. You can find these
projects in the near future on our website. There do a joint statement,
which points out once again how wide our cooperation is wide.
In 2015 we will celebrate 50 years of German-Israeli diplomatic relations,
and this anniversary is being prepared by the Secretary of State very
intense. That will surely once again be a contribution to greater
cooperation in all areas - from culture, the economy and even financial
issues and much more.
It is interesting that there are now quite a number of trilateral
cooperation projects, particularly in the development sector and the
agricultural sector. In other words, Germany and Israel to enter into
African countries - Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya - in order to make it clear that
we work just as well in the area of development assistance in other
We held yesterday evening a very thorough discussion of the overall
situation in the Middle East area, and have also looked at the various
centers of conflict. I have in the conversation once again made it clear
that the security of Israel is part of the German raison d'état.
Unfortunately, there was in the last few weeks an opportunity to make this
very clear once again, as Israel was the rocket attacks from Gaza, but
brought in severe distress. Of course we have discussed how we can improve
the security of Israel. Therefore it was important that it has now come to a
truce. It was, I think, but also very important - so I did it anyway made it
clear again - that cause and effect are not taken messed up and that the
starting point of the rocket attacks by Hamas was.
We believe the German side that the work will be continued on a two-state
solution must, and we want that there is a Jewish state of Israel and a
Palestinian state. In our opinion, it has to be constantly trying to come to
negotiations and unilateral actions should be avoided. This will also mean
that we agree on the settlement issue is that we do not agree. But this is a
part that has already been discussed many a time.
Otherwise, I can only say that there is a wide, deep, common concern, namely
that our two countries work together amicably, intense, good and
sustainable, and that it is clear that Israel is the only democracy in the
region with which we are strategic one partnership not just in the face of
current threats to chat, but that Israel is a country with which we like to
work with and friendly. Given the historical ties, in view of the Holocaust,
we are aware of the German side, what a joy it is that today we can
cooperate with each other on this basis.
MP Netanyahu: Thank you, Angela, thank you very much, Madam Chancellor. I
want to thank you very much for that you have welcomed me so warmly welcome,
and also that the government has provided us such a warm welcome, especially
to my colleagues in government.
I've heard today and yesterday, how important to you are all the relations
between the Federal Republic and Israel. You've already said: This is not
just any relationship. This is a special relationship, a relationship that
we deeply feel, and most of all, you feel deeply. We very much appreciate. I
appreciate that very well how much time you are in the strengthening of this
friendship, the partnership invest. I would like to take this opportunity to
make absolutely clear that I have absolutely no doubt about how deep your
commitment to the safety and welfare of the state of Israel.
We had the opportunity last night for an excellent conversation. We have
continued today. Today, we also talked about the areas in which we work - in
science, in the economic field, in academia, in the cultural sector - and
indeed in many different and diverse ways.
But we also have a lot of time spent on talking to us about the challenges
we face in this rapidly changing environment in the Middle East over. We
need to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, we talked. We also talked
about the fact that it is necessary to ensure that the chemical weapons that
Syria has still not used and do not fall into the wrong hands, in this case
the hands of terrorists.
We have talked about the need to advance the peace with the Palestinians.
Israel feels totally committed to the goal to achieve peace with the
Palestinians, according to the principle of "two states for two peoples."
This means that a demilitarized Palestinian state must recognize the Jewish
state of Israel then. I think we can achieve that, but that is the only way
for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. I hope that the
Palestinians will return to the negotiating table and that they do so
without giving any preconditions, so that we can work together to forge a
secure and lasting peace that will benefit both the Palestinians and the
I can say at this point that we have put things in these conversations, in a
larger context - I would call it - a very general and realistic framework
regarding all these different points on which we agree, where we have also
made it clear where we just do not agree. It is true: in addition to the
major issues on which we all agree there are also points here and there,
which we do not agree. But I see the Chancellor just as a friend, a partner
for security and peace in the Middle East, and that's that which we seek. We
want to give our people a hope and a future for decades to come.
Before this government consultations we also had the opportunity to roam a
number of other areas. We talked about the cooperation on security and
cooperation in agriculture. We will also open up new areas where it can just
be such a co-operation between Germany and Israel. Thank you very much!
Q: First question to the Chancellor: Did you soothes the statement made by
Prime Minister Netanyahu, where you see what the interest of the Israelis to
build in E1? Do you convince yourself? We hear from many people with you
that you are about Mr. Netanyahu's policies regarding the status that is not
currently in negotiations with the Palestinians, something out of tune.
I also have a question to Prime Minister Netanyahu. We hear from the
Chancellor and by Obama that the settlements should be stopped in E1. Have
you changed your mind? What happens next with this?
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: From my side, I can only say: Of course, we've talked
about. I spoke my opinion also. This has again been found in the sentence:
We have agreed about the fact that we disagree.
But that does not change the fact that we are in the big issues that I have
addressed to the security of Israel, of course, represented the same
opinions. But at this point there is a difference of opinion. Israel decides
itself Israel is a sovereign country. We can not only make as a partner to
our assessment and say, can we understand this? We believe that this is the
The goal is clear, in our view, that the two-state solution. At this point,
there is a non-match.
MP Netanyahu: Thank you. - Last night I had the Chancellor stated that we
have been pursuing for nearly 45 years with the same policy. All Israeli
governments have built in the Jewish neighborhood of Jerusalem. What is
called the settlement blocs are actually suburbs of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
About 90 percent of Israeli citizens living there in those suburbs that lie
just outside of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. This is not just a new policy to a
new policy approach. Also, previous governments have pursued this policy.
There has been no change.
Second, on E1. We're talking about a very narrow corridor between the
suburbs of East Jerusalem. Approximately 40,000 people live there about two
miles away from Jerusalem. A number of governments - from Yitzhak Rabin to
my predecessor, Ehud Olmert - has then been told that this would be
incorporated into a final peace agreement.
Most governments that have dealt over the years with these proposals - and
that includes the Palestinians themselves - have realized that these blocks
will be part of Israel, and indeed in the long term even if a final peace
settlement. It is also not about a change in our policy approach. We are
still here coherent. Abu Mazen, that is President Abbas decides to act
unilaterally. He is one-sided and only gone to the UN and has submitted an
application. They have abandoned the common approach. These problems can be
solved but only by doing what we - the Chancellor and I - did yesterday.
This is a lengthy process. You must sit down, must talk about these
differences and try to find a solution.
The Chancellor has made clear to me over last night that such a thing does
not happen over night that you have to invest time. Among friends we must
also disagree. We have a solid foundation of a good friendship. But when one
speaks of former enemies, it takes even more time. But you can not stop a
negotiation if they have not been started. Israel is ready for direct talks
Question: Madam Chancellor, the general mood of the population in Europe,
but also in Germany is increasingly anti-Israel. It influences how your
policy toward Israel? How can you get close to the people your Israel policy
A question to the Prime Minister. Last night we heard - I think anyone in
the State Department has said - that we lost after the vote at the United
Nations Europe. Is that your belief? If so, how can Europe regain again?
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: I believe that this government consultations, which we
carry out are to contribute to making our country - that means the
population, the people think in our countries - to know you better and can
make even more contacts. We have heard this morning in the discussion with
the scientists that is not only scientifically researched together, but that
we might know that one gets to know the family that you get to know the life
and deep friendships that arise from it.
We want to do more for the youth exchange. We want to do more for
scholarships for young people. We want to build relationships not only speak
of a terrible historical experience, but want it to be lived relationships
in the young generation. We are pleased that in Germany there are many
tourists from Israel and that of course also many German travel to Israel.
All that needs to be transported. Then understanding will grow.
I will on my part - as I a) have a lot of support that we have such a
German-Israeli government consultations, but as I b) summarize my words very
clearly, if Israel's security is at risk - of course always advertise it.
Some polls have us already meet very concerned when it comes to the question
of who is the cause of certain attacks. So you have to - that's why I also
said - call cause and effect very clear and also keep talking about it.
Anyway, I'm on my part to do so.
MP Netanyahu: Thank you. - I do not think we've lost Europe, as we began a
defense of our country against attacks from Gaza. As we have learned from
all sides support. Of course, there are different views when it comes to the
settlements. Most Europeans believe that the root of the conflict is
Israel's settlement policy. The settlement issue is a question that must be
resolved during the negotiations. But it is not the root of the conflict.
This conflict goes back to a time long before there was a settlement policy
of my country. From the very beginning - 1920 to 1967 - there was not a
single Israeli settlement, not a single Israeli soldier in Gaza. We have
left areas. But the attacks on us from Gaza continue. Why? We have but
withdrew from the Gaza Strip.
This is not purely a territorial issue. If that were the case, we would have
solved it by now. We must seize the opportunities. We need a partner who
strives for a territorial solution and not existentially against the
presence of Israel - within what limits whatsoever - is. The root of the
problem is not the issue of settlements, but the opposition to the State of
Israel - within what limits whatsoever.
I very much hope that we can at least start with a part of the Palestinian
negotiations on joint peace, two states for two peoples, about a Jewish
state alongside a Palestinian state on borders and security.
I have not given up yet. I say to Mr Abbas. The best proof is that I have
tried and continue to try to convince European leaders reasonable assumption
that it is a goal that is worth fighting for. A proof can be found in the
fact that I am here today and talking to the Chancellor and the government
was sticking to see how we can keep open the opportunity for a realistic
Question: Madam Chancellor, Germany is considering further steps, if
Israel's settlement policy will be continued?
Prime Minister, you could explain to us how it comes to this change in the
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: I spoke my mind. It is an Israeli decision. I'm nobody,
who threatens, but we discuss our differences. We then have as a Federal
Republic of Germany and of course our take decisions in certain situations.
But the basics of the German-Israeli relations, I have named. They are
untouchable, and they hold out different opinions.
The only question is - and this must be discussed among friends -: Is this a
helpful step, or is it not a useful step for the goal of a two-state
solution, that is a Jewish state and a Palestinian state? Since there is the
issue of settlements in fact a mismatch.
But the prime minister is here and we talk to each other, but is the best
sign that we wrestle again is to find solutions and move forward. I am
therefore pleased that the Israeli prime minister and most of his cabinet
here today as guests.
MP Netanyahu: I think there looking for solutions are many design options,
if time and space for discussion is. We know that in Europe there is a sense
of frustration that the Palestinian problem is not yet solved. But six
Israeli prime ministers have not been able to sign with the Palestinian
Authority a peace treaty. Surely the reason you can not see is that we had
not tried enough. Whether this is Shimon Peres was or if I've been
personally - or even Ehud Barak, Ariel Sharon, Ehud Olmert - we tried it
all. Many efforts we have made in an effort to find a quick solution to the
Many European governments are there maybe sometimes a little impatient in
their desire to see a quick solution. (Required) are patience and a
willingness to discuss a government or a head of government, which remains
open and fair. How often have we been willing to put our heads with the
Palestinians at a table and start negotiating? How many steps we have - done
to advance the peace - and my government? To the extent in which people view
these things more closely and discuss the issues, hopefully they will
realize that on the Palestinian side, the willingness to direct negotiations
has not been so strong. This peace is certainly not decided in the United
Nations in New York, but not in Europe. It will be decided between Jerusalem
and Ramallah and met. The only way to convey that is, direct negotiations.
Question: Madam Chancellor, the Israeli prime minister has expressed
disappointment at the German voting behavior in the vote at the United
Nations on the status of Palestine. During his visit to Prague, he also drew
a parallel to the Munich Agreement. Understand this disappointment? Do you
understand these parallels?
Mr. Prime Minister, you are now less disappointed with the abstention of the
Germans, after you have met with the Chancellor?
CHANCELLOR MERKEL: Well I've read that. I have taken note. I take this
course as a true statement.
We have made us part of the Federal Republic of the vote and the voting
behavior is not easy. We are against unilateral action. Therefore, we did
not vote in favor. That was with careful consideration.
On the other hand, there is some movement of the recognition of two states
that we did not have too many times with the Palestinians. So it has come to
this vote. Otherwise, it must come before all else to negotiate. The vote in
the UN was certainly not a contribution to making it faster comes to
negotiations. Now we have to go back to work hard to make sure it ever comes
to negotiations. We have discussed not only with Israel but also with the
MP Netanyahu: If you had read the full quote, then you would know that I
thanked first the Chancellor very much for having us fully in relation to
Gaza and completely supported and us has also helped to achieve a ceasefire.
This kind of international support is emphatically yes to us so valuable.
I then said that I - even though I was disappointed with the German
abstention - of course knew that this would promote the view of the
Chancellor peace continues. The only thing I said is, that probably - and
I'm just worried - harden the attitude of the Palestinians is still and we
will perhaps also prevent to achieve faster progress in the peace
negotiations. But I have no doubt, as the attitude of the Chancellor to
Israel is - no.